Article Category: Columns

Slips, Trips & Falls: Don’t Fall for It

Slips, Trips & Falls: Don’t Fall for It

Humans can be amazing. Most of us can stand upright on two feet, walk and move around easily, even gracefully sometimes. It gets harder to walk and do your work when you are out on a rain-soaked dock or moving vessel. There may be gear or equipment to navigate around. There may be steps or ladders to get from one level to another or from the dock to the vessel. There may be something on the working surface that makes it slippery—rain, ice, saltwater, hydraulic fluid, fish or bait. Not to mention that when you are working on deck, there is fishing gear, tools and equipment in motion and coordination of movement with other fishermen, their gear or activities. There’s also the weather and sea conditions. By reviewing the reported injury information for Oregon and Washington commercial fis...
Great Balls of Fishy Fire Light

Great Balls of Fishy Fire Light

Some fish are attracted to light. We all know that. We’ve known that since people have been waving fire torches from wooden dugout canoes. It’s quite evident today, and it can be seen in all of those brightly lit up fishing vessels at night. Sure, those lights help keep the deckhands safe, but you can tell that many of those lights are specifically designed and aimed at bringing fish up closer to the surface. So, why not produce some special underwater lights for the seabed fishing industry? Well, a few companies have tried to do just that by selling lights for crab pots and lobster traps. Some of those products have provided mixed results due mostly to the quality of the products made. However, one company has managed to shed some light on the subject in a most positive way as far as ...
What To Do With All Those Oil Rigs?

What To Do With All Those Oil Rigs?

Widespread, industrial-scale oil and gas development of the U. S. Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (POCS) has been a constant threat to West Coast fisheries since the 1890s when the first wave primitive offshore oil wells were originally drilled into shallow coastal waters. The great oil spill off Santa Barbara in 1969, which dumped more than three million barrels of crude oil into the ocean, made it clear, however, that if anything goes wrong with offshore oil development, impacts on regional fisheries could be catastrophic. Thankfully, and as a direct result of perseverance, coastwide political organizing and luck, our commercial fishing industry, working with our state legislatures and key members of Congress, has—mostly—held this effort at bay since West-Coast wide oil and gas develop...
Operational Stability—Stay Upright and Watertight

Operational Stability—Stay Upright and Watertight

Continuing our series on fishing vessel stability, this month’s article focuses on operational stability and offers some tools to help the folks on board keep things ‘Upright and Watertight.’ In the previous two articles we covered the importance of stability training: fishing vessel-specific-training, and which vessels and at what thresholds do stability regulations apply.  Now, you put your vessel to use. The decisions made by the skipper, engineer and crew, combined with the physical forces of nature, make for a complex and dynamic scene that if allowed to get out of hand, can cause catastrophe. Here are some ways to mitigate the risks while at sea. Maintain Watertightness Keep doors and hatches always secured except while using them. If the manually operated six-dog door is too muc...
Pacific Salmon  in Hot Water—Again

Pacific Salmon in Hot Water—Again

One of the most dramatic natural resource tragedies of our times, and one which directly affects our fishing industry by destroying thousands of fishing jobs coastwide, has been the thoughtless and sometimes deliberate destruction of the West Coast’s once abundant salmon runs. Everywhere on the West Coast (both U.S. and Canada) these once abundant wild salmon runs are in steep decline, with many of them already extinct. The steady decline of West Coast salmon runs was an unacknowledged disaster until the prestigious American Fisheries Society (AFS) published a peer-reviewed, comprehensive scientific survey of the problem in “Pacific Salmon at the Crossroads: Stocks at Risk from California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington,” (Nehlsen, et al., Fisheries, Vol 16, No. 2, pp. 4-21 (March-April, 19...
Fishing Vessel Stability Requirements—Adding Clarity to the Murky Applicability

Fishing Vessel Stability Requirements—Adding Clarity to the Murky Applicability

This is the second article in a three-part series on the topic of fishing vessel stability. Last month’s column covered awareness and training and next month’s will address operational stability and how the use of a vessel can drastically affect its stability. But this issue’s article focuses on regulations and requirements and how some in the industry and even the Coast Guard, fail to recognize when they apply. What, When, Who? – Does This Apply to Me? When it comes to commercial fishing industry vessels 79 feet or greater (that are not required to have a load line), the stability rules are within 46 Code of Federal Regulations Part 28, Subpart E (Stability). You can look up those on your own if you want to read it word for word.  They are most helpful if you are having difficulty fa...
On to the Future

On to the Future

By the time you read this, PCFFA will be under new leadership. Unlike some partings, this one is very amicable. When I came aboard, PCFFA needed a uniter. I think we were very successful in bringing unity to our organization as well as reestablishing relationships with commercial fishing organizations we had lost touch with. Today, PCFFA is in need of someone who can lead the organization to become even more prosperous. Like most fishing organizations, PCFFA has operated on a shoestring budget.  COVID-19 provided challenges, but thanks to some generous donations and COVID relief funds, we persevered. But to accomplish our organizational goals and objectives, we realized we need leadership which has a primary focus of raising funds. With those funds, we will be better situated to remain ...
Guest Column: Doing More with Less

Guest Column: Doing More with Less

It would appear that “doing more with less” could be the unofficial motto for today’s society, especially regarding the workplace. Restaurants, offices, tech companies and many other businesses are feeling the squeeze of being short staffed and finding it hard to recruit and retain qualified long-term help. What does this mean for the employees who are in the workforce? It means doing more than your normal duties in your job description. While it is a fact that sometimes you just do what needs to be done to perform the task at hand, this extra effort is creating an environment for workers that leads to extra stress, longer hours, fatigue and eventually burnout. This does not create a healthy and sustainable model for businesses to succeed and thrive. The COVID-19 pandemic was har...
Stability Awareness — Are You Aware?

Stability Awareness — Are You Aware?

Fishing vessel stability is often characterized in foreign and misunderstood terms that describe the constantly changing forces that act upon a vessel while it is at sea. The wind and waves provide the motion as the vessel rolls, pitches, yaws, heaves, sways and surges. The burning of fuel and use of water changes the internal weights of the vessel and introduces an additional force of free surface effect. The skipper and crew working hard to move equipment, launch fishing gear, tow nets, haul back the catch, dump it on deck and into the holds adds even more complexity. That’s a lot of dynamic forces going on for a craft at sea. Add in that fishing vessels are what the Coast Guard considers “uninspected,” so there is ambiguity to what standards, if any, need to be followed, which regu...
Responding to Climate Change Threats to Fisheries

Responding to Climate Change Threats to Fisheries

Almost exactly a decade ago, in 2012, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations adopted and published a major policy statement explaining just what “global climate change” was all about, and why we as ocean commercial fisheries folks should be concerned. That landmark policy statement “Combating Global Warming & Acidic Seas (2012)” (https://pcffa.org/climate-change-and-fisheries) still stands as a beacon of good sense in a world where the threat of climate change has gone from scientific theory to grim reality—and will with certainty get a lot worse before it gets better. This column is to bring our fleet up to date on what is actually being done to help our industry continue to fish in the face of these scary (and sometimes seemingly overwhelming) worldwide changes. T...